At some point we all feel as though we are just going through the motions. We’re multitasking like never before and we are just getting by with all we have to do. When it comes to meaningful connections with our kids we may sometimes feel we are skating by with the bare minimum. How can we be more present and enjoy simple parenting moments more often? By making a few small changes to our routine and being more mindful of all the ordinary moments that present the opportunity to connect more meaningfully. Here are a few ideas…
Set Boundaries for Digital Devices – Don’t allow smartphones, computers, TVs, and tablets to make you strangers to your family or vice versa. Set rules for when these devices need to be put away. An example would be to make a rule that all devices be put away for a rest when the family eats meals.
Wake Up Before Your Children – This small move allows you to get things done that might otherwise interfere with your ability to be present when they wake. Go through your inbox, send a few emails, return a text, do a load of laundry, meditate, or put breakfast on the stove. Get these done before they are even awake and then you can actually sit and enjoy your time with them before the chaos of the day begins.
Family Clean Up – In my house we have a family cleanup as needed. That means everyone at home cleans house as a team. We put on the some music and I give the marching orders. Sometimes there is drama but for the most part it is enjoyable to conquer this task together. We used to do a daily cleanup that I referred to as my 15 minute miracle. Now that one child works outside the home we have gotten away from the daily routine but I remember it fondly!
Weekly One on One Time – Try to do something with each child, just the two of you, each week. Take a walk in the park, go to the library, play a card game, take them to the grocery store, or challenge them to a game of Mario Kart. Children need those moments when your attention is focused solely on them.
Family Game Night – Build a collection of fun games and play one each week as a family. The kids will love this so much they will not let you forget! If you have some overly competitive kids try cooperative games where the the goal is to work together to reach the completion of the game.
Have Them Cook With You – As my kids get older they are required to do some cooking. It’s not fair that mom gets stuck with all of it. You can spend some great quality time picking recipes, learning cooking skills, even sitting at the counter talking to them as they cook a meal they have mastered.
Really Talk To Them – In the car turn off the radio and actually talk. In fact be prepared with conversation cards. You can actually buy some and use them at home (perhaps during dinner) and when driving. The questions are specially designed to engage kids in the art of conversation. They contain a fun mix of age appropriate questions that range from silly to thought-provoking and encourage up-building conversation between parents and kids.
Hugs All Around – Take a page from the movie Trolls and have hug time. No, I’m serious! I am known to sing out what I hope is a melodic bell sound accompanied by a boisterous “hug time!” My kids enjoy these impromptu hug requests, even if they occasionally like to act inconvenienced. And of course younger kids love it.
I hope these ideas give you some inspiration to make positive change!
We end up with a fair amount of glass bottles and jars that we must then find a way to reuse and repurpose. Coconut oil jars, jam jars, Trader Joe’s sliced peaches jars, artichoke hearts jars, and lately my mom’s Kombucha jars. I introduced her to the chia seed Kombucha from GT and she is becoming a fan I think. Most jars end up being beverage and smoothie glasses but other things become storage for dried goods…like wood ears from the Asian market or dried fruit. Old maple syrup bottles are great for bottling homemade syrup and Kombucha bottles are perfect for home brewed Kombucha.
Conserving electricity is a necessity for parents who want to save money. As a mom, you may be interested in finding a unique and innovative approach to getting your kids involved with helping you conserve electricity for the home. It is always a good idea to teach children the importance of saving electricity from a young age so that it is something they learn, understand, and continue to do even when they become adults.
Turning Lights Off
Turning the lights off in rooms when there is no one inside of it is one sure way to save electricity. It makes no sense to leave lights on a room if no one is using the room at the time. Why waste electricity? You can teach your children with helpful reminders to always shut off the light in their room, the bathroom, or any other room inside of the home. Explain to your children that cutting the lights off when they are not being used helps to save money, which means more money that can be used towards family vacations and fun filled activities.
Powering Off Games and Televisions
Many children have at least one type of video game console. When the video game console is plugged in but is not being used, it is simply sitting there and wasting electricity. And, the same thing goes for leaving the television on when no one is watching it. You can talk to your children about powering off the television and games when they are not being used and how it can also help to save money in the long run. As a family you can also decide on a decent time for games and television to be turned off at night.
Going Green with the Family
You and your children can take the initiative to go green by changing certain things in the home with energy saving products. Traditional light bulbs in the home can waste a lot of energy and also tend to wear out faster than the compact fluorescent light bulbs. The compact fluorescent light bulbs conserve energy and reduce costs, but they also last for a long period of time. Getting kids of all ages to interact with the responsibility of conserving energy is a sure way to educate your children while saving money at the same time.
Create Competitive Contests
You can create competitive contests for the entire family. For example, you can set a plan for saving electricity. After setting the plan, you would come up with an idea on how much the electricity bill should cost for the month. If the entire family is able to save electricity and lower the cost of the bill, you all will have won the contest for the month, which means a special prize can be rewarded to everyone. The prize could include a trip to the zoo, museum, or even a pizza party.
Make the learning experience fun and your child will love helping your save money on electricity. Whether it’s something as simple as encouraging the kids to turn off the lights when they leave the room or something as complex as implementing an entire green initiative in the home, you can get everyone in the family involved and excited about the changes.
I think sometimes we green moms are often viewed as being hysterical about toxins in our home and environment. We are hyper vigilant about all the stuff we bring into our lives because so much of it has the potential to be harboring toxic substances. Think about the mattresses we sleep on, the detergent we wash our clothes with, and the shampoo we use on our children’s hair during bath time. All of these sources and hundreds more have the potential to make us sick, individually and cumulatively. It is isn’t hysterical to address these very serious issues, to me it is just common sense. I am frankly sick to death of those who want to paint us in a bad light because we care so much.
While I think that keeping my family safe and my home as green and healthy as possible is important stuff…it isn’t all that hard or complicated. Once you do the initial research and start taking baby steps to clean up your act you realize that green housekeeping is actually pretty easy and nothing to stress about. I am not having daily panic attacks about phthalates or screaming at my husband because he bought a shaving cream with unsavory ingredients. We are actually pretty chill. Going greener does not have to be stressful or detract form the enjoyment of your life. I think that is why I love the Day in the Life video (below) from Seventh Generation. It shows a green family having fun and enjoying their home and family life all the while protecting themselves from unnecessary chemicals. They are not crunchy wackadoos or martyrs. They are just a regular family living a bit more consciously.
I also love their Lemongrass & Thyme multi surface cleaner…just sayin. :)
This post is sponsored by Seventh Generation. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
This past weekend I had the great pleasure of attending the largest climate change rally in the history of the US. Some are saying it ended up being one of the largest environmental rallies in history as well. It was a humbling experience to march on Washington and stand united with others who share my concern for the environment and my frustration that progress on climate change has been virtually nonexistent. It was a doubly wonderful experience because I was able to take my 12 year old son with me and share the experience and the activism with him.
When I heard about the Forward on Climate Rally that was taking place in DC I knew wanted to attend. It works very well with my New Year’s goals for this year to be more involved with philanthropic activities and personal activism. I have a tendency to use my words more than my actual voice. I blog about important issues to help educate others, I encourage letter writing and petition signing, and I encourage voting with our wallets. What I don’t typically do is use my actual voice to get the message out. Trying to impact change with my blog is great but I also want my kids to see me going out and taking action as well. This year I want to step away from the computer and do more in person, for myself, but also for my kids who really cannot see what I am doing behind the screen.
I want to set an example for my children and show them that we must do more than gripe and complain about the issues and problems we see, that we have to take action. I took my 12 year old with me, so he could experience the rally and learn from those that attended it. We had many great conversations and I think he learned something valuable that he couldn’t get from just hearing mom talk or seeing a news story. I hope that it sets the stage for his own activism and that as a group we also made it clear to our political leaders that support for cleaner, greener action and legislation is in fact there. Attending this rally accomplished that and so much more.
Me (left) and some other Ohio moms, including Jenny Linn Confer of MCAF – Photo Credit: Bryan Saums
My son enjoyed just about every aspect of the trip/rally, except perhaps the biting cold, but who did like that? He got to hear Rosario Dawson speak and she makes an appearance in a few of his favorite movies. I think that had to make an impression on him. Also amazing was the energy and enthusiasm of the 40,000+ people there. We met many great people, including the amazing folks we carpooled with and roomed with. They made the experience so much more and I look forward to teaming up with them again on other issues. Big sloppy kisses to the Sierra Club and Moms Clean Air Force who made this experience possible.
Another aspect of the rally that really stayed with me is just how diverse the people and interests were at this rally but how united everyone was. They all had different reasons for being there and different “hot” issues that they cared about… Tar sands, Keystone KL, coal, fracking, clean water, clean food, clean air, species protection, toxic environments for children, etc. There were also people there from a variety of states showing how the issues impact them personally. The large Ohio group for instance was very concerned about fracking. It is big issue for us here in the Buckeye state.
The energy was contagious. If we want to impress upon young kids that these are important issues and causes then we have to find a way to reach them. There were people of all ages there and getting to know them and learn about why they care so much ensures that you cannot help but care too. It was a great experience for my son and has spurred many deep questions about issues and politics. It was important for him to hear it from other people instead of just me. Sometimes I believe he thinks I am being overly dramatic. Now he knows just how many other people are concerned and that he should be too.